At The Rumpus, Richard Greenwald writes about the novels of Jonathan Lethem, urban gentrification, and the Sisyphean feat of achieving authenticity in New York.
Yesterday marked eight years since a devastating earthquake struck Haiti and a few days ago Trump put the country back in the news (but not in an reflective or uplifting way). Looking to learn more about Haiti sans racist rhetoric? The New York Times has “three books by Haitian writers that provide insight into the country’s history of struggle and resistance.” Find the list here.
“He was a glutton for books who treated each text as a plate he was required to clean.” Author and critic William Gass died this week at 93, reports The Washington Post. The recipient of three National Book Critics Circle awards for criticism and four Pushcart prizes, Gass was awarded the PEN/Nabakov Award for lifetime achievement in 2000. See our reviews of Middle C, a novel that took Gass almost 20 years to finish, and his most recent essay collection Life Sentences, which amply demonstrated his background as “a former philosophy professor, but more appropriately a philosopher of the word and an esthete.” We were also lucky enough to have him pen a Year in Reading entry for us back in 2009: “I miss the leisure that let me read just for fun, not to critique, or pronounce, or even to put on a list, but simply to savor,” Gass lamented. Nonetheless, he continued,“I do, from time to time, pick up old friends who never disappoint but will promise me a page or two of pleasure between art and ordinary life.”
“Without any clear and agreed upon sense for what to be aiming at in a life, people may experience the paralyzing type of indecision depicted by T.S. Eliot in his famously vacillating character Prufrock; or they may feel, like the characters in a Samuel Beckett play, as though they are continuously waiting for something to become clear… or they may feel the kind of “stomach level sadness” that David Foster Wallace described…” Sean D. Kelly navigates past nihilism for the New York Times.
“There is a term in the legal world for such instructions — dead hand control — and, although compliance has varied and enforceability is debatable, they have been attempted by artists from Franz Kafka to a Beastie Boy.” The New York Times explores the potential impact of Edward Albee‘s will on his work, including his instruction that any manuscripts incomplete at the time of his death be destroyed. Pairs perfectly with Aaron Hamburger‘s recollection of staying at the famous playwright’s place out in Long Island for an artists’ residency.